Continuing Medical Education (CME) or Continuing Professional Development (CPD – increasingly the preferred term) forms a challenge for health care professionals in all settings. The literature on CPD in high income countries is far from reassuring that CPD has the desired impact of changing the behavior of physicians to match the latest information (Cochrane, McMahon).
Within this context, I found it interesting to discuss CME/CPD with several of the physicians on our trip. All noted a wide range of options were available, and many availed themselves of these (or were teaching within them) – when asked, several noted that the majority of these were funded by pharmaceutical companies and focused on updates in therapeutics, with a smaller group of CME offerings from academic institutions and departments. This is not surprising – as the import of low and middle income country markets grow for pharmaceutical companies, their outreach will shift towards those locations as well. It is somewhat perturbing, both in that we are using the same technical approaches in these settings that likely have little impact, and that we have allowed private companies to take the lead in providing education.
I don’t claim to have an ideal answer – yet – but the question of effecting effective education in low-resource settings is one of great interest to me, and I’m hopeful that the years to come will find an increasing focus on the topic. As is readily evident, health care professionals cannot provide the best possible care without knowing what exactly that entails!
Cochrane review of CPD meetings (there are several others as well)
McMahon NEJM perspective piece from the ACCME (which I read as glass half-empty, he reads as half-full)